Must do…Get to…Done…The Gift of Work

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So many times I resent the work of motherhood.  I don’t want to get up in the morning to a sink full of dirty dishes, I don’t want to be woken up I want to wake up on my own, I don’t want to intercede during fights, I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I don’t want to.  Some days though its a deeper anguish some days it’s a I can’t clean up another pile of vomit, I can’t go another day with everyone fighting, I can’t keep the house clean, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.  I understand this probably sounds more like a 3 year old temper tantrum who has skipped nap time and spent the afternoon at the park.  In reality it’s the honest as I can be confession of a 30 (almost 31) year old mama of 4.

There are times when I open my bible, talk to a fellow mom, or just look at what the world asks of us and all I see is a list of must.  When I talk to a fellow mom it may be close friend or an acquaintance I run into at Walmart it is so easy to fall into the comparison trap.  When I see all of the wonderful snacks mom #1 made to bring to the park, how gently mom #2 speaks to her children each time, and how obvious it is that mom #3 works out and eats right I begin to create a running list of must do’s in my head.  Some days I can check all the boxes on that list and I am dancing all the way to bedtime.  Other days I am left to tell myself to work harder.  The only problem with the instruction of work harder is that I’m already exhausted.

When I open my bible looking solely for a way to live my life what I find is the LAW.  Not just a list of things to strive for but I list of things I must do.  There is no almost when it comes to the Law of God.  The first commandment tells us to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’.  I can’t even do that.  I don’t even love the Savior, by my own strength, who died on my behalf.  I can identity with Peter when he denied Christ.  When he chose to worship his idol of self image instead of proclaiming his allegiance to Christ.  I have so many idols battling for my attention I could write a book on them.  Some idols are ones I have had my whole life others come and go with different seasons of life.  Matthew 10:37 speaks to a seasonal idol I have.  It says “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of me.”

My children are a gift from God, but I can turn them into idols.  It happens when I desire to show my goodness, my worth , my righteousness through my parenting.  I use my children to justify myself.  I use my vocation (work) of motherhood, another gift, as a way to look down my nose at the cross and say thanks for that but I’ve got it from here.  I try to take off my robe of righteousness placed on me because of the completed work on the cross for my fig leaf bikini composed of my so called good things I’ve done or am doing in my life.

“Everything that isn’t gospel is law.  Let us say it again; everything that isn’t gospel is law.  Every way we try to make our kids good that isn’t rooted in the good news of the life, death, and resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ is damnable, crushing, despair-breeding, Pharisee-producing law.  We won’t get the results we want from the law.  We’ll either get shallow self righteousness or blazing rebellion or both (frequently from the same kid the same day)  We’ll get moralistic kids who are cold and hypocritical and who look down on others (and could easily become Mormons), or you’ll get teens who are rebellious and self-indulgent and who can’t wait to get out of the house.  We have to remember that in the life of our unregenerate children, the law is given for one reason only; to crush their self-confidence and drive them to Christ.”  (Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson)

I need to remember this detail about the law when I’m dealing with my life and with my kids.  The law does not have the power to change.  We may be able to appear, for a time, that we are pulling it off.  The Pharisees were able to during the time of Jesus until He blew that idea out of the water.  I must stop looking to the law to save me.  I must stop looking to the law to save my children.

Because of the despair the law creates in my life there are times when I despise reading it.  When I am in the mind set of making a checklist I do not run to my savior I run for my notebook to make a list on ways to do it right.  I read Psalm 119:97 and I think the author must have a screw lose. “Oh how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.”  How do I love the law of God when I am so horrible at keeping it?

I had a lightbulb moment as I was going through a study on Genesis.  After God creates everything with his words he gives commands.  When God created the world, the universe, everything all he used were words.  The creation account could be summed up as God said let there be so and so and so and so came to be.  If God commanded it that thing happened.

After the creation account God gives Adam and Eve commands.  He says Be fruitful and multiply, Fill the earth, and Subdue it.  When we look at these in light of Jesus we find who is really being fruitful, who is filling the earth, and who is subduing it.  John 15:16 speaks on being fruitful

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.”

God has done the choosing, He has done the fruit bearing.  Hebrews 2:5-9 speaks about subduing the earth.

 “Now it was not to Angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.  It has been testified somewhere, What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him?  You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.  Now putting everything in subjection to him.  But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

Matt 28:18-20 speaks about filling the earth.

“And Jesus came and said to them “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”

Because of Jesus these are more than just commands, more than just a list of things I must get done.  They are a gift.  They are a gift not because we go and get it, not because we deserve to be fruitful, not because we deserve to be chosen, not because we have the authority.  We are chosen, we are fruitful, we are able to go and make disciples because of the completed work of Christ on the Cross.  In spite of ourselves we are fruitful, we bear fruit, we go and make disciples of all nations.

Seeing all of these commands given as gifts I can embrace Psalm 119:97.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Phophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  Matthew 5:17

Because the law has been fulfilled by Jesus the commandments are now a gift to us.  I won’t go into all of the commandments but just looking at the first one brings peace.  The first commandment says that we shall have not other gods.  Luther goes on to explain it that We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.  As I confessed before I have a daily battle with idols.  My children are at the top of my list with numerous items following them.  I have proved to myself over and over that I can not keep the commandments.

Christ has fulfilled the law.  What a comfort it is that because Jesus kept the law perfectly we shall have no other gods.  Because Christ fulfilled the law and took on our idol worshiping sin He will be our God.  Not because we can keep our sinful flesh at bay but because he fulfilled the law on the cross.  We now have his righteousness, his keeping of the law, his having no other gods because he took all of our idol worshiping to the cross.  In spite of my long list of functional idols in my life ‘I shall have no other gods’ because of Christ.

In spite of my resentfulness towards my work as a mother I am loved.  In spite of my resentfulness toward my gift of motherhood my work within this gift is being completed.    “and I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring I to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6).  These places and positions of work that we are in are because Christ has placed us there.  He has chosen us, called, and equipped us and he will bring it to completion.

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